Does Maine have an anti-bullying law that protects public school students?
Yes. In 2012 Maine passed a law, “An Act To Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools” (available at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_125th/chapters/PUBLIC659.asp).
The Act defines bullying as any communication (written, oral or electronic) or physical act or gesture that:
- harms or seriously threatens you or your property;
- creates a hostile school environment; or
- interferes with your academic performance or ability to participate in school activities.
The law identifies certain characteristics that are often a target for bullying, including actual or perceived race sexual orientation or gender identity and expression or association with another person with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
By January 1, 2013, the Maine Department of Education must develop a model policy that must include:
- A requirement that school staff report bullying and procedures for school staff, students, parents and others to report bullying;
- A procedure for promptly investigating and responding to incidents of bullying, including written documentation of incidents and the outcome of investigations;
- A process for communicating with the parent(s) of a student who has been bullied the measures taken to ensure the safety of the student and to prevent further acts of bullying;
- Each school’s anti-bullying policy must be as stringent as the model policy and must be widely published and disseminated in written form annually to all students, parents and staff.
- Each school shall provide staff training in the best approaches to implementing the anti-bully policy.